Peter Farrell

Last weekend saw more tremendous action at Limerick Greyhound Stadium as the Con & Annie Kirby quarter finals reached their conclusion and with the field now halved to just twelve runners, all connections will be feeling the heat ahead of tonight’s semi finals.

The reputation of the Con & Annie Kirby was franked once more last weekend as 2022 winner, Swords Rex, added the BresBet Easter Cup to his glowing CV and one thing for certain is that the remaining twelve runners in this year’s renewal will feature heavily throughout the remaining Classics in 2023. Indeed, despite losing the outright favourite in Clona Duke last weekend, there is an abundance of talent remaining in the €80,000 to the winner feature and the first semi final in particular is a thing of beauty.


Prior to the commencement of the Classic, Ryhope Beach had set tongues wagging after arriving with a huge reputation from the Juvenile Classic and he added to that with a sensational trial around Limerick, posting 28.10 in a solo. Things haven’t been plain sailing for Michael O’Donovan’s star in the Classic up until last weekend, however, that’s a testament to his quality in that he remains as a leading light for outright glory. Clocking 28.05 last time out, albeit in a four-dog affair, the son of Droopys Sydney showed exactly what he is all about on that occasion and although facing an exceptional field tonight, he remains a major player in terms of booking his spot in the feature in six days’ time. Drawn in six as the sole middle seed, Ryhope Beach will need to sharpen up at traprise if he is to land the spoils, however, if turning close heading into the back, Alison Bandurak’s tracker will without a doubt be there or thereabouts at the business end of proceedings. Another big performance last weekend came from the Pat Buckley-trained Terezas Mendoza and she gets the vote to build on that victory. Another who is a product of the Juvenile Classic in Tralee, the brindle daughter of Droopys Sydney blitzed a top-class field last time out to win in 28.07 and she will be lining out from another ideal draw tonight. Penciled in to run from trap two, Terezas Mendoza posted a rapid 16.04 to the penultimate turn on her way to victory last weekend and with a slick opening sectional of 1.28 also in her book, she represents the most likely leader once again. Her kennel companion Bens Teddy will occupy the red jacket on the inside of Terezas Mendoza but whether or not he has the early dash to live with his kennel comrade remains to be seen. The aforementioned Bens Teddy will attract plenty of support however. A real crowd favourite, Kim Pritchard’s star had produced a number of big performances thus far in the Kirby and he recovered brilliantly from plenty of traffic last Saturday night to secure the final qualification spot. Despite facing a red-hot field this time around, he has been rewarded with a plumb draw in red and could turn in a nice posse given he is likely to receive plenty of freedom early doors. In what is a semi final worthy of a final in itself, Scaglietti is another with claims. The Patrick Guilfoyle-trained black is exceptionally quick and this has been evident with two 28.21 performances thus far. The son of Magical Bale has a bit of everything, early pace to coincide with strong stamina, and despite a tricky draw in five, his prior displays suggest he will lead both Gaytime Hugo and Ryhope Beach early on. Should this be the case, Scaglietti will prove a tough nut to crack down the far side. The remaining semi finalists in the opening semi are Blastoff Salah and Gaytime Hugo, two greyhounds who are certainly not there to make up the numbers. The latter in particular is a very strong runner, who will aim to pick up the pieces in the event of possible traffic. Gaytime Hugo has finished second in each outing thus far in the Kirby and connections would snap your hand off for that finishing spot later tonight. Drawn in four, the Graham Holland-trained tracker has no forlorn hope but will perhaps need a little luck in running. The same applies to Blastoff Salah, who is the one of the most inexperienced greyhounds left in the Kirby with just the six starts under his belt. Incredibly still searching for a first career win, that victory is unlikely to come tonight but he has been steadily improving and expect another forward step come XXXX. Selection: 2-1-6


The second semi final is another of an incredibly high standard and the vote goes to Bogger Lucky, who produced an outstanding display in the quarter finals.

Owned by Liam Peacock, who is producing winner after winner over the past number of months, Bogger Lucky ran a brilliant race to make-all in 28.45 last time but it was his performance one week prior which really caught the eye. On that occasion, he showed scintillating back straight pace in behind Romeo Hanzo before being forced to check at the penultimate corner. At that point, his talent was evident to all and despite having plenty to find on the clock, he looks more than capable of upping the ante. Drawn in trap six tonight, should he reproduce his early sectional of 1.27 he will likely lead and if doing so, his rivals will all have to go some to reel in Bogger Lucky. Clonbrien Treaty will also have plenty of followers. The Graham Holland-trained tracker is another who has shown phenomenal pace down the far side in the earlier rounds and he finally put it all together last time out when taking control early on. Drawn in trap one, the penny may well have dropped for the son of Pestana as a result of his exploits last weekend and should this be the case, he will be a huge force to be reckoned with going forward. That said, he will have to contend with Orange Eimear, who adores the rail, in the early exchanges and the outcome of that clash will go a long way to deciding who books their ticket in the decider. The aforementioned Orange Eimear is another with claims. Pat Buckley’s bitch was simply brilliant when posting 28.08 in the second round but was a little lacklustre as she surrendered a lead with relative ease at the second turn last time out. However, she is a much better outfit when drawn on the inside and she can’t be ruled out as a result. Whyaye Man showed sensational speed in round two as he recorded 28.18 and he is another who is more than capable of stringing this field out. Robert Gleeson’s brindle has the ability to do it both ways and it’s worth noting that he produced his best run to date from what looked a potentially tricky draw in trap five. His 1.23 opening sectional on that occasion would certainly be enough to lead this time around and given he has brilliant all-round speed, he is selected to make the final as his trainer hunts for a second Kirby triumph. Of the remaining semi finalists, Ballymac Seanie and Hovex Tommy have both impressed in contrasting fashion. The former has shown big speed to qualify in each round to date, particularly catching the eye in round two when posting a career best 28.38, while Hovex Tommy is all about setting the standard. He was terrific in leading home Clonbrien Treaty in round two as he clocked 28.27 and although facing a tricky draw in four, he is more than capable of blasting the lids and dictating early . All in all, the second semi is a real head-scratcher and one which is certain to split opinion. Selection: 6-5-1


The supporting act on the card will be the semi finals of the €5,000 to the winner Sean O’Connor Memorial A1 525 and based on the opening round action, this stake will take quite a bit of winning.

As I Say went quickest in the opening round for Newry based owner Brendan Matthews and despite a tricky draw in trap five in the second semi, he remains the one to beat. A 28.43 winner last time out, the son of Broadstrand Bono isn’t expected to figure early but he will be arriving at a rate of knots in his bid to land back-to-back wins in the stake. Of his rivals, Ballymac Samuel impressed last time out when posting 28.53, while Kells Dynamo is the likely leader in four.

In the opening semi, Lynchy Boy can overcome a far from ideal draw to prevail for Paraic Campion. The brilliantly consistent son of Confident Rankin recorded his 21st career win last time out when arriving late but make no mistake, he is very capable of producing a 28.40 effort if allowed the racing room. Of his rivals, Old Bill ran a cracker in defeat last time out, while Freedom Reader can also enter calculations as the sole wide runner.


The semi finals of the Limerick & Clare GOBA A3 525 also feature on a top-class card and Glorious Best gets the vote in the opening semi.

Trained by Pat O’Connell for John Lyons and Donal O’Carroll, Glorious Best chased home the ultra-impressive Velvet Berlin last weekend and posted a swift 28.61 in doing so. That also would be more than enough to land this contest and he has some twenty spots in hand over nearest rival on the clock, Jackals Jewel.

The aforementioned Velvet Berlin was a brilliant winner of his opening round assignment and Deyse Buckley’s May puppy looks certain to go close in the second semi. Drawn in trap three, he posted a rapid 28.40 last time out and he still has plenty of scope to improve given his age. Portdrine Magic is the obvious threat in trap six after posting 28.64 last time out. 


Aside from the stake action, there is a notable name on the supporting card and that is one of Ireland’s fastest, Ballinabola Ed.

The Pat Buckley-trained star will be having his first start of 2023 but he has shown his well-being with an exceptional 28.10 trial around Limerick last week. A real powerhouse, the 2022 Kirby finalist can show his rivals a clear pair of paws over the 550-trip later tonight. His main dangers will be Romeo Hanzo, who is superbly drawn in trap one, and Annagh Bailey, who is a match for any greyhound when on-song.